Officials suggest precautions for Crime Prevention Month

Even a small amount of change visible inside your vehicle may be enough entice a thief to smash a window out of your car, costing you far more than a few coins.

Area law enforcement agencies are emphasizing the prevention of vehicle break-ins this year during October, National Crime Prevention Month.

The Sweet Home Police Department, with the Albany and Lebanon police departments and the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, applied for a $1,000 grant to advertise and help people remember ways to lessen their chances of being the victims of theft.

They also are distributing posters and flyers this month through Neighborhood Watch groups and at events.

“We’re targeting the county, going to malls, shopping centers and grocery stores,” Riley said. The departments will set up tables with volunteers handing out literature explaining steps to help prevent theft and vandalism to vehicles.

When the Albany Police Department first put together the campaign earlier this month, representatives went to the Heritage Mall parking lot and looked at 10 random cars, said Gina Riley, SHPD community services specialist.

All of them had items in plain view, including one with a laptop in the back seat and window down.

Five the vehicles were unlocked, Riley said. Some items may seem unusual, but small change, a cell phone charger or even box top labels used for school fund-raising efforts can attract thieves.

“If you don’t want it stolen, don’t have it visible,” Riley said. “Put all your valuables in the trunk prior to leaving. Secure your vehicle. Remove items of little or no value.”

Don’t make it obvious, though. Openly placing a purse or other valuable item in the trunk at a destination allows others to see what you have in there, Riley said.

“Because of the shopping seasons coming up, if you have packages, put them in your trunk,” Riley said.

A lot of these things are “things you just don’t think about,” Riley said.

Remove all items of value from your vehicle every time you leave it unattended. Items most attractive to thieves are stereo equipment, cell phones, purses, wallets, firearms, tools, cameras, CDs, iPods, laptops, GPS systems, shopping bags, clothing and gym bags.

Remove items of little or no value, such as loose change, empty backpacks, laptop USB cords and iPod ear buds. Thieves may think these items are in the vehicle and break in anyway.

Never keep vehicle registrations or important papers in your vehicle. Carry these items in your purse or wallet (State law requires registrations in the vehicle while driving).

Remove garage door openers when a vehicle is parked. Thieves can gain entry to your home if these are accessible.

If possible park vehicles in the garage with doors locked.

Mount audio and cell phone equipment inconspicuously, and use mountings that allow you to take the equipment with you. Visible mountings may indicate the item is stored elsewhere in the vehicle and may encourage a break-in.

If your vehicle is parked in a carport or near the house, leave exterior lights on throughout the night.

Replace lights closest to the vehicles with motion detector lights.

If parcels, purses, or wallets are placed in the trunk, put them there before arriving at your destination and disable trunk releases per the vehicle owner’s manual.

Close all windows and lock all doors.

Never leave the vehicle running while unattended.

Always park in a well-lit area.

Consider installing an alarm.

Record the serial numbers of audio equipment and take removable face plates with you.